While millions of Americans were watching the Super Bowl last month, B. Alan Wallace was speaking in the Mind & Supermind lecture series at Santa Barbara City College (Podcast & PowerPoint slides below).
Standing before an audience of those clearly indifferent to the exploits of Peyton Manning, Wallace took a certain delight in drawing an analogy between ordinary life and American football.
'Like a quarterback dodging tackles to get to the goal line, we're seeking pleasurable jobs, acquisitions, people, places to live, through the avoidance of unpleasant stimuli.'
Unlike these more preternatural forms of pleasure, Wallace advocates a "genuine well-being" that is the cultivation of a mental balance not contingent upon outside factors. It is a mental state that is arrived out through a process of "knowing the mind," that involves both introspection and extrospection—what Wallace has labeled "contemplative science."
Wallace is quick to argue that what he is proposing is not merely a modification of the Buddhist meditation he studied for many years as a monk. It is a rigorous integration of the strengths of age-old contemplative traditions and contemporary science. With academic degrees in both physics and religion, it is an endeavor for which he is uniquely qualified (click to see his CV).
Over the years Wallace has published several books on the interface between science and religion. In his most recent, Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge (Columbia University Press, 2007), Wallace offers a concise introduction to the philosophy and methodology of contemplative science. And though it isn't being transmitted via a high-definition plasma screen, you can listen to a podcast of his winning lecture on contemplative science below.
Click to hear podcast (mp3 18.3 MB) >>
(Compliments of Santa Barbara City College)